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Christmas break was all too brief. He was not able to convince his fiancé to wait until the morning to leave, so they packed up the two cats and their one little carry bag and headed off up Interstate 71 North.

The arrival was as Bill had anticipated except her mother woke up and came down to greet them when the dog barked. The dog, a big German Sheppard, jumped on Bill and insisted on being kissed and petted. The dog finally settled to sleep where Bill was.

Bill ended up spending a lot of time sleeping. Being on the go all the time, working six days every week and many times seven, every day early morning until late at night, supplementing his lack-of-sleep energy with Black Beauties, Bill had gotten used to the  mantra of no rest for wicked. With time to rest now and his fiancé not allowed near him in bed, he slept.

Back at work, he found that the time between Christmas and New Years was pretty dead. Mary and Bea were ever the same. They hooked up in the parking lot like always and opened up with Tommy. They went down to change, Bea a bit more frisky than usual, Mary a bit more withdrawn. Out in the hall, all set for the lunch and waiting for the first orders to come in, Bea spread her legs wide and reached her hand up there to tease Bill. Bill ran his tongue around his lips suggestively  and Bea met his gesture by pushing her panties to the side and more.

They might have gone downstairs and finished the business if they hadn’t heard the sizzle sound they both knew was Henry Lee greasing the grills and cooking off some hamburgers and bleus. Then there was an order, a waitress calling it out after Henry Lee asked her what she had.

Bill discovered that Mr. Jim was retiring for good right after the turn of the new year. He had taken the week off because it was slow, because he’d reached his maximum earnings for the year while on Social Security. Mr. Bowman had offered him a completely cash deal, and he’d kind of wanted it, but his wife wanted to move south, away from the bitter winters. Mr. Jim knew he could easily find a new gig anywhere he was.

After the lunch there wasn’t much to do. Henry Lee was all caught up with the meat cutting. Mary didn’t have anything to cook. They had enough of everything breaded. Bill punched out and was gonna head home for a nap until Lorraine, who was doing a double and splitting shifts like he was, asked if he wanted to go by her house. It was much closer than where he lived, so he said yes and he followed her in his car as she led the way.

He crashed on her living room sofa. Both Lorraine’s daughters were home on school break. Bill was kind of thankful. Lorraine gave him a fresh towel and he took a hot shower. Then, back in his uniform, he lay down and was asleep almost instantaneously. Lorraine followed suit, took a shower, slept in her own bed.

Since he didn’t have far to travel, he slept until almost five. It was already dark when he got up. He wouldn’t have gotten up if Lorraine hadn’t awakened him. Seeing the time, he pulled on his shoes and after telling the kids he was pleased to have met them and thanking Lorraine for letting him crash, he went on back to work. Lorraine was closing and wasn’t due back until six.

Mary was pissed and Bill could see it in her face right off. She made no bones about letting it out in her attitude either. On one level it was kind of funny. On another, it was kind of flattering.

“Couldn’t even go one day,” she said crossly.

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